Silence fell over the group as we contemplated her words.
“We should drink more,” Kit announced suddenly. “And where’s the music? How can you plan a bachelorette party without music?”
“Good call,” Jess said, clearly relieved to change the subject. “I’ll go put something on.” She stood up, walking across the half grass, half dirt of our backyard toward the kitchen porch. Em and Kit looked at her.
“She okay?” Em asked.
“She’s always okay. Jess has a lot going on, but she pulls through. She’s tough.”
“Fucking hell,” Kit burst out.
“We’re out of booze,” she announced, mournfully turning the wine bottle upside down. Her vodka cup was empty, too. “Now what are we going to do?”
“We’ll go get more,” Em said. “Except I’m way too buzzed to drive . . . Fuck, now what are we going to do?”
“This is a problem,” Kit replied. “A big problem.”
“We could stop drinking,” I pointed out. Both sisters stared at me blankly. “Okay, we could walk down to Peterson’s and buy some more. It’s only about six blocks.”
“I like this one,” Kit said seriously. “She’s a thinker.”
“Yup. We should keep her,” Em said. “So who’s coming with? I want some chips. And maybe some of that squirty cheese shit that comes in a bottle.”
Kit curled her lip. “That’s disgusting. You’ll die from eating that.”
“You’ll die from eating cock,” Em sneered back at her.
“You’re just jealous because I’ve got some variety in my life,” Kit said, unconcerned. She glanced at me. “Are you a virgin? Em was a virgin when she got together with Hunter. She doesn’t even realize that there’s other dicks out there. For all we know, he’s got a four-inch stick. Never settle, Mel.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
• • •
“We might need some of this,” Kit said, lifting a long, hard tube of summer sausage out of the deli cooler, hefting it thoughtfully. The thing had to be a foot and a half long, and it was a good three inches thick.
“Not my place to judge,” Em replied carelessly. “But that doesn’t look very sanitary to me. I think you should just buy a dildo.”
I gasped, glancing around to see if anyone had heard us. We were standing in the meat aisle. Peterson’s didn’t sell hard liquor, but we’d loaded up on wine, along with some fresh fruit to make sangria. Why we needed sangria I wasn’t entirely sure, but Kit had been insistent. She kept rolling a lime thoughtfully between her fingers and muttering about scurvy.
Clearly, the Hayes sisters were batshit crazy.
“Let’s just grab some chips and go,” I said, starting to worry about how much the bill might be. I’d gotten enough financial aid that I didn’t have to work this semester, but only if I pinched my pennies tightly. “If you really want tubed meats, I’m sure you can find some guy to share his for free down at the Ironhorse.”
Jess gaped at me.
“Melanie, did you actually just say that?”
“What?” I asked. “You seem to think I’m some sort of quivering virgin. I’m not—I’m just more worried about school and my future than getting laid. Doesn’t mean I’m a prude.”
“Of course she’s not a prude,” Kit declared, throwing her arm over my shoulder proudly. “And tonight we’ll show Painter just what he’s missing out on, because he’s a whiny little pussy. A bunch of Hunter’s brothers from Portland are in town—I’ll introduce you around. You’ll have a great time. Painter can sit and spin if he won’t step up.”
“We’re not going to the party,” I told her. Kit shook her head slowly.
“No, you’re definitely going,” she said. “Someone has to put him in his place.”
Jessica and I looked at each other, eyes wide. She shook her head at me, mouthing, Don’t do it!
“I’ve really got a lot of studying to do . . .”
“You’re coming to the party,” Kit repeated, her eyes going hard. “Don’t worry—we won’t leave you hanging. But this shit needs to end. I’m not letting another girl get hung up on that cockwad for years just because he’s got his thumb up his ass. Dealing with Em’s situation was bad enough. The girl was useless. Totally useless.”
“I’m standing right here,” Em pointed out.
“I’m aware,” Kit replied, her tone suddenly sweet. “You know how much I love you, sis. Now hand me my sausage.”
• • •
Two hours later I still wasn’t sure how I’d wound up staring at myself in the mirror, trying to figure out what to wear. I didn’t want to go to the party, yet here I was, primping and preening, feeling almost sick to my stomach every time I imagined meeting Levi “Painter” Brooks on his home turf.
Jessica wandered into my bedroom, frowning.
“I still can’t believe you’re going,” she said. “They’ll eat you alive out at the Armory. You have no idea what those parties are like.”
“Kit and Em promised they’d keep an eye on me,” I reminded her. “And this is a family party—not some crazed fuckfest like you went to.”